Monthly Archives: July 2015

Some Days I’m Not a Great Parent…

The other day I wasn’t feeling well. I had some sort of a bad summer cold, and was just pretty under the weather all day. My wife had to be somewhere, and I had my little one all day. Usually these are my favorite days, and we do all sorts of fun stuff. This was not that day… I was a useless pile of dad. My daughter, being 3, wasn’t amused by Daddy’s inability to be any fun at all. She kept asking to play, but I really didn’t have it in me. So I resorted to the bane of perfect parents everywhere… the television.

On a perfectly decent summer day we sat inside and watched TV. We took a few breaks to draw here and there, but honestly it was pretty much a movie marathon. She never even made it out of pajamas for the day. For food, I let her have waffles on the couch, and we ordered pizza at some point. All of this adds up to a pretty bad day of parenting. She had a fun day, but at no point would I describe anything we did as particularly good for kid development in the realm of body, mind, or spirit. That’s what happened, and on that day I was not a great parent.

I think most of us try to be pretty good parents overall. However, some days you just can’t bring your “A” game (or in my case your “D+” game, as illustrated above). Parenting doesn’t come with sick time, and that means you have to just do the best you can. Still, by the end of our nothing day, I felt like I had let my kid down (even though she enjoyed pizza and couch with dad all day). Even though, I know that usually we have great days full of various fun things, and one “bad” day here or there really isn’t a big deal, I still felt like I owed her a more fulfilling time. Would I let this kind of thing happen often? Of course not. However, once in a while, we all have to be “bad” parents for whatever reason.

If you spend a lot of time looking at parenting articles, reading blogs on parenting, or even just browsing social media and seeing your friends and their kids in their best, most well staged photos; it be becomes pretty easy to think you aren’t doing a good enough job. The bottom line is this, we all have good days and bad days. You can’t let yourself be swallowed up by the “perfect parenting” rhetoric. Some days you do everything right, and you go to bed feeling like your kid really blossomed and learned new things. Some days you feel like garbage and sit on the couch with your kid eating something called “cheesy bread”.

4 Odd Little Surprises of Parenthood

There are a lot of things about parenthood that people expect going into it. The exhaustion, bodily fluids, and constantly trying to appease a crying little creature are all pretty much known hazards. We all know the huge life changes are coming. However, there are a few unexpected side effects to parenting. These are just the little surprises that never really crossed your mind beforehand.

4 Odd Little Surprises of Parenthood

4) I See My Parents More Than I Did When I Lived With Them…

OK… that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get

the point. I love my parents, and I am very close with them. That being said, when I moved to Massachusetts (a state that 15 years later, I still cannot spell without a little help from spell check), my parents would come visit about twice a year. They live five hours away, and it was fine. This is no longer the case. I see my parents, like clockwork, once a month. Furthermore, they actually have the gall to pretend that my wife and I have anything to do with these visits. It’s OK mom, I know you love us, but I also know that these are needed doses of granddaughter.

As for my father… when did you turn from grumpy dad into happy grandpa? Seriously, where was Smiles the Clown when I was a kid? My dad is basically a mix of Red Foreman and the dad from Frasier… except when his grandkids are around. All of a sudden he’s the happiest guy in the world. This all leads him to say extremely loving things like “Kids are a necessary evil to get to grandkids…”. Love you too pops.

3) I Have Legitimate Preferences on Kids Shows

I am probably going to do a “Kid’s Show Review” thingy down the line. In the meantime, you need to know one thing. All kids shows are not created equal. On one side of the spectrum, we have cute little educational shows with positive characters like Daniel Tiger and Doc Mcstuffins. On the other side, we have badly animated, content-less time sinks like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and that awful one Caillou with the whining kid who isn’t allowed in my home.

This kid is just the worst.

I have legit feelings about these shows. Some of them I will flat out reject a lot of the time due to the fact that I’m pretty sure they are actively making my kid lose motor skills. Still, there are mornings where dad is just too tired for arguments. Those are the mornings that Mickey and his “Baby’s First CGI Class” cast of friends reign supreme.

2) I Don’t Want To Get A Babysitter

I used to love going out and partying. Now, most weekend nights, I really don’t want to. This isn’t a reflection on my friends. My friends are great. It’s not even usually based on what the event is (unless the event is camping… camping is awful). However, my wife and I both work full time, and our time with our daughter is basically relegated to Saturday and Sunday. Nights during the week are a rushed combination of dinner, a short amount of hanging out, and then it’s bedtime. Therefore, on the weekends giving up time with our kid isn’t an idea we’re all that keen on.

Obviously there are exceptions, and the occasional night out is a nice break, but most of the time I just don’t want to leave my daughter for any more time. This is why if I ask someone if an event is kid appropriate, it’s not because I expect you to adjust your event for my kid, or that I will be upset if it isn’t. It is simply because if it’s not kid appropriate, then I probably am not coming.

1) I Like The Activities I Never Thought I Would

By all accounts I’m a pretty token guy. My favorite past times mostly revolve around sports, video games, and laughing at things that my wife will never find funny. However, since my daughter was born, I have discovered I’m a pretty big fan of shopping for sundresses. Yep, I basically can’t walk by a kids store in the summer, and not look at the little dresses my daughter would like. If you asked me 4 years ago what activities I would really like as a dad, I can’t imagine dress shopping would rank real high on that list.

There are other activities that I do now that I never cared about, but this one sticks out the most. I think the main point is just that as a parent you will find yourself enjoying things you never thought you would. So keep an open mind, and try some new things with your kids even if those activities aren’t ones you would expect yourself to enjoy. Who knows, you might really like dress shopping too.

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10 Things Not To Say To The Parents Of Only Children

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My daughter is an only child. Due to reasons outside the control of my wife and I, she will remain an only child. This is something that is neither positive or negative, it just is. However, it is something that people feel the constant need to put their own personal commentary on. Completely unsolicited and generally unwanted commentary. It’s rarely friends that do this. It tends to be acquaintances,

obscure family members, or my personal favorite… complete strangers.

I also want to note that none of these are made up. Every single one of them has been said functionally verbatim to either me or my wife…

10 Things Not To Say To The Parents Of Only Children

10. “Your Daughter is Going to be Lonely All the Time “

We all get lonely, I have a brother and a sister, and I don’t think that removed all traces of loneliness from my younger life. Furthermore, I will be teaching my daughter that she can find great companionship in this world that was not given to her by the womb of her mother, and she also can enjoy many activities by herself. It would really be odd if I told a parent with multiple kids that their kids “would feel crowded all the time.” Yet, somehow the inverse is a foregone conclusion.

9. “She will be spoiled.”

Thank you for your utmost confidence in my parenting skills. I have met spoiled only children, and have met spoiled siblings. The idea of spoiling a child is a ridiculous thing to attach to how many kids are in a family. If parents let their kid/kids run rampant, give them anything they want, and don’t treat them to respect others then they will be spoiled kids. I try to teach my daughter to appreciate the world she lives in, and the things she has. Most of the time I think she does very well with this. Does she have spoiled kid moments? Of course. However, it is not the product of no siblings… it’s the product of her being a child.

8. “Oh, you’ll change your mind”

This really goes back to the idea that you do not know people’s situations. My wife and I cannot change our minds. It isn’t our minds that absolutely don’t want more kids. To be reminded of this randomly by people is extremely frustrating. The truth is this. We may have had another child, and we may not have. However, having that decision taken from us is a very sensitive topic. So as much as I appreciate your shots at my indecisiveness, I assure you my mind has been made up for me. This also is very closely related to my next one…

7. “You are going to regret that with only one kid/at your age” (Post Vasectomy)

I don’t talk about my vasectomy very often. Mostly, because it isn’t exactly a topic that makes great casual conversation (“Yeah, great weather we’re having… did I mention that time they took a knife to a very sensitive part of my anatomy?”). Still, on the occasions that it does come up for whatever reason, someone will usually remark that I was too young for the surgery, or I would regret it later. I got the surgery because my wife cannot get pregnant due to severe health risks. So no, I will not regret removing the joy of “life threatening pregnancy” from our relationship.

6. “The best gift you can give a kid is a sibling.”

It’s Christmas morning, and the family is gathered around the tree… Little Suzie just opened up “The Rise and Fall of Oscar the Grouch: A 7 Part Mini-Series” or whatever absurd thing she wanted. But wait, Suzie! There is one more present for you! Suzie begins to unwrap her last gift, and what’s inside? A baby brother! Suzie is overjoyed! She always wanted one of these! Suzie plays with the baby for 72 seconds, and then is more interested in the box he came in.

The point is kids aren’t gifts to other kids. That’s just weird. Presenting another child as a gift is a really odd way of looking at it, and probably a little unhealthy. It frames younger siblings as “owned” by older siblings. I can’t imagine that is going to go over very well for younger child’s psyche down the line.

5. “Only children all turn out weird”

All of them? Every single only child in the history of the planet has turned out weird? That seems reasonably unlikely. Besides, if normal is telling people you hardly know, exactly how their kids are going to turn out; then I will risk having the weird kid. The social ineptitude that comes with this declaration is mind boggling. It places this forgone conclusion of oddness on my kid, like there is absolutely nothing my wife or I could do to stop the process of “weirdness”.

4. “Don’t you want one of each?”
 
First, even if I wanted one of each, I don’t see how having another kid would guarantee that. If the next kid is another girl do ship her off to Timbuktu to keep the “one of each” dream alive? Or do I now have to have two boys in a row to maintain the perfectly balanced see-saw of child rearing? God forbid I get three girls in a row, we won’t be able to stop procreating until we have enough kids to start our own baseball team (complete with a full relief rotation). Second, kids aren’t Pokemon, we aren’t trying to collect the whole set.
3. “Are you guys trying?”
 
Just say it. Just ask the real question here… You want to know if I am banging my wife. In fact, not only are you asking if I am banging my wife, you are curious about how often we are banging, and why. Are we banging enough that it would qualify as baby making banging, or are we just banging for fun from time to time and maybe even using protection? Is this a little uncomfortable to read? Yeah… it’s a bit uncomfortable to answer too.
2. “It’s not parenting until you have more than one kid”
This is so incredibly offensive. My daughter is the best part of my world, and I do everything in my power to be the best dad I can. When she was in the hospital I was there every night after an 8 hour work day. I’m up early every morning to get her ready for school/daycare, and if she cries at 3 AM I am right there to hear about her bad dreams and tuck her back in. I play with her, hang out with her, and try to help her grow and learn. I give my little girl every minute that I reasonably can. My main goal for as long as I am able, is to give her all the chances I can at a great life.
To have someone call what I am doing “not parenting” is extremely insulting. Is having more kids harder? I am sure that it is. I don’t doubt that keeping track of two or more little humans is a harder job than handling one. That being said, I am as much of a parent as anyone else on this planet, and I have no tolerance for being told otherwise.

1) Anything to the Kid

Everything else on this list I can handle, and only get a little annoyed at worst. I know people don’t know any better, and generally aren’t being malicious. However, if you want to get me angry very quickly, then direct this kind of stuff at my daughter. I have had people ask my daughter if she’s “Ready to be a big sister?” or tell her to “Ask mommy and daddy for a brother or sister!”

My daughter is three years old. She cannot understand the reasons that she is an only child yet, and to put us in a position where we randomly have to talk about it on a family day out is infuriating. After someone says these things to her, she will spend the next twenty minutes asking my wife and I if she is going to be a sister, or she will get hyper focused on her friends and their siblings. We explain things the best we can, but it’s an extremely emotionally draining conversation. Furthermore, it usually ends with her at least a little bit upset. In short, if you are going to be rude and obnoxious to someone, at least have the common courtesy to do it to me or my wife. We’re adults, we can just tell you to screw off.

People’s family structures are very personal, and shockingly they may not want to talk about it with you. I am sure a lot of these could be easily tweaked for people without kids as well. The bottom line is this, you don’t know other people’s situations. Your questions or statements do affect people, and it’s important to realize that when you ask them. Especially on topics as sensitive as family.

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